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Extending returnable glass bottle life is crucial for brewers amid rising energy costs and glass shortages

14/06/2022 – Beverages / Bottles / Returnable / Glass / Brewers / Diversey

Extending returnable glass bottle life is crucial for brewers amid rising energy costs and glass shortages

Brewers throughout Europe face huge price increases and significant glass bottle shortages, with logistic and supply chain issues that took hold in the pandemic having been exacerbated by soaring energy bills. As a result, the cost of new glass bottles to the industry has risen 80 per cent over the past year.

With more energy price increases inevitable, protecting the returnable bottle fleet has never been more important for brewers to maintain brand values and their bottom line. But, how can such businesses reduce the significant costs of removing damaged bottles early from their production cycle?

Maximising sustainability keeps costs down

A reusable system is, despite high transport costs, the more environmentally friendly option and conserves limited resources. It is also a brand positive, when your customers have high awareness of the environmental impact of energy use and emissions, and prefer to buy beverages in refillable containers. 

The high carbon footprint of glass bottles – the industry average consumes 1.2 tons of equivalent CO2 for every 1 ton of new glass bottles – ensures the returnable option remains essential to maximise sustainability and keep costs lower. However, accepting a trade-off of cost and appearance results in brand damage and therefore is not an option.

BottleCare extends life by up to 50%

Using Diversey’s returnable glass BottleCare programme, brewers can extend the life of their bottle fleet by up to 50 per cent. Protective cleaning technology – alongside cosmetic treatments – prevents damage, which means the bottles remain in circulation for longer. BottleCare is designed to improve the appearance of returned bottles, avoiding impact on customer satisfaction, while maximising the return on investment in a brewer’s bottle fleet. The programme incorporates two products brewers can apply as standalone initiatives, or combine as complementary solutions.


A gradual cycle of corrosion

Returnable bottles are subject to a very physical process and are susceptible to damage during the washing cycle and the conveyor belt transportation that follows. Routine exposure to high temperature and harsh chemicals begin the process of corrosion. Gradually, bottles develop very noticeable scuff rings – typically at two points just below the neck and on the bottle’s base. Bottles rub together, or create friction in contact with the guide rails of the filling and packaging system, as well as in transportation.


Glaze removal only accelerates scuffing on the next cycle, and each subsequent cycle. The more the bottles are used, the more the deterioration of their appearance is accelerated. This whole cycle may occur anything from 20–50 times for the life of a glass bottle, until it finally reaches the point of breaking; or is discarded due to its deterioration and poor appearance.

DivoBrite cleans, protects and reduces TCO

Diversey has developed DivoBrite Defend to protect the glass, while delivering cleaning power equivalent to the most corrosive detergent choices currently available. The chemistry used is non-EDTA or Phosphate based, ensuring a better environmental profile. 

You don’t require extra investment to take advantage, as the sustainable additive is dispensed through conventional dosing equipment employed on existing bottling lines. This delivers high performance cleaning and superior glass protection – compared to single or multi-product conventional heavy duty bottle washing additives – and at a lower, more economic consumption rate.

A study in achievable savings 

A Diversey case study was carried out at a bottling plant in Mexico, where degradation of label print was limiting bottle life to 30 cycles. A rigorous testing regime – in comparison with existing additives – revealed headline figures including an annual glass saving of US$129,390; a 50-per-cent increase in bottle life extension; a 42-per-cent reduction in chemical additive consumption and a reduction in CO2 of 690 tons.

At today’s glass prices, the impact of purchasing new glass would be in the region of US$232,900 – an 80-per-cent increase on glass costs, thus further highlighting the scale of the achievable saving.

DivoBrite Defend tackles the threat to a brewer’s brand equity posed by unsightly scuffing and fading of labels or logos. Better cleaning performance improves line efficiency performance and achieves a reduction in carbon footprint. Micro contamination risks are reduced through scale removal, and residue build-up is actively prevented. Moreover, there is a reduction in re-wash rates, which, together with all improvements, can achieve a significant reduction in a company’s total cost of operations.

The mask you can’t easily remove

Diversey’s second complementary innovation – DivoMask – is a complete bottle maskant system that delivers a high shine, quick drying and non-sticky coating. The average number of trips for a returnable bottle is 20, with the majority of producers discarding glass when scuffing reaches 4–9mm. With DivoMask, the number of trips can be increased by up to – and in some cases can exceed – 50. The application system is designed to be retrofitted without significant line alterations, providing consistent dilution and avoiding additional cost and downtime.  

DivoMask meets tough industry requirements for masking technology, exceeding required parameters in all four. These include, a freeze-thaw test to ensure the maskant is not affected by transition from chilled to ambient temperatures. A 48hr Ice Challenge ensures the coating remains when the bottle is submerged in iced water for that period of time. The drying time was found to be realistic and the criteria of visual coating – the coverage of the maskant and its ability to cover scuffs – was also superior. In addition, it is an extremely economic solution, with the cost of masking one bottle less than one-per-cent of the value of actually replacing that bottle, while the life of the bottle fleet is extended by up to 50 per cent.

Staying resilient and competitive

Amidst the current soaring energy costs and glass shortages, DivoBrite and DivoMask are valuable allies to a brewer’s bottle fleet, adding resilience to operations and helping such businesses remain competitive. Indeed, as the firm itself says in a statement on its cost-saving innovations: “Diversey’s BottleCare Programme will ensure your bottles keep delivering your product, and counter threats to the integrity of your brand, as you combat some of the most difficult operational circumstances the industry has seen.”

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